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Sin-bin a winner - Dawson
February 3, 2000

England captain Matt Dawson tonight welcomed the sinbin into this season's inaugural Lloyds TSB Six Nations Championship and declared: "I've been shouting from the rooftops for it."

Referees will now have the power to send players off for a 10-minute cooling-down period after International Rugby Board bosses sanctioned the sinbin's immediate use in Test match rugby.

And Dawson, who leads England into battle against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday, believes it is a timely introduction.

"You play against some hard, physical players who would rather give away three points, as opposed to seven and commit an infringement," Dawson said.

"Matches can be won and lost when players go into the sinbin, and I have been shouting from the rooftops for its introduction."

Dawson has also welcomed the other major law changes, which will also take effect this weekend.

After a tackle, players must now approach the ball from behind their team-mate before playing it; props must not apply downward pressure at the scrums as referees start applying the so-called `use it or lose it' interpretation; and line-out support players cannot now pre-grip team-mates below the waist.

"I am very pleased with the law changes, they are there for the right reasons," added the Northampton scrum half.

"The line-out and scrummage are commendable laws, and teams will adapt to them firstly because they have to, and secondly because you can get one up on the opposition if you have them set in your mind better than they do."

England today continued preparations for Saturday's match at their leafy Surrey base, and Dawson is under no illusions as to how tough a challenge Ireland will pose.

"They have got some very influential players in their team, people like Keith Wood, and we have to be very much aware of what they can do.

"Playing at Twickenham against us will also be a motivation for them, and we will need to be on our guard."

Dawson will be leading his country for the first time on English soil, having performed an heroic job during England's ill-conceived 1998 Southern Hemisphere tour.

He takes over from his fellow British Lion Martin Johnson, whose Achilles injury has sidelined him from rugby since mid-December.

"It is a double-edged sword for me," Dawson said. "It is great to captain your country, but I knew that I would only be doing it if Johnno was unfit, and we need him in the side.

"But we are fortunate though to have a wealth of form players in the second row."

England go into the tournament as 11-10 favourites with one major bookmaker, but Dawson insists that the squad are not currently looking at any end-of season prizes.

"As a team, we are not looking too far ahead we've got some massive fixtures this year.

"Our opening Six Nations game is against a very passionate Irish side, but for our team's sake we are looking to get back on track following a self-confessed unsuccessful World Cup."

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